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Picking up the phone with confidence – Stop cold calling and start introducing yourself

We all use phones all day long, we speak with clients, we talk to friends and loved ones, we call colleagues and suppliers.

We are more than happy to speak with people we know, but when it comes to calling someone we don’t know, even the most hardened sales-people can go weak at the knees.

If this sort of thing makes sales-people nervous, then I know its not going to be fun for people in the professions who have more limited marketing experience.

My first ever cold calls

When I moved away from accountancy and started my sales career, one of the first things I learned was to cold call.

I was given a list of 1200 contact names, many of whom had not heard from our company for many many years, or had moved on and the information I had was wildly out of date.

The first call I made wasn’t easy, in fact, it was awful and the person I spoke to told me where to go in no uncertain terms!

The next call was better, and the third better again. By the time I had done a few hundred I had developed a style and a process, and a bit of a thick skin too. But in reality, I was just learning how to do it better and better.

And then an interesting thing happened, I started to enjoy it. I enjoyed it because I changed my approach and mindset, and stopped cold calling, and started introducing myself to the right people.

Suddenly I was getting meetings, being helped to speak with the right contacts and being given business leads. In some cases I was even given work!

I was business developing, and it really is so easy to do.

Cold calling is an awful term for these introductory calls, and can in itself put people off. If we re-phrase this and call it introductory calling, it is already a little easier to face up to. If we take things further and think about making calls to people we know, have met or have a connection with, then it becomes warm calling.

If the call is a follow up as a result of having met someone at an event, or been linked with them in social media (particularly LinkedIn) then its easier still.

I am not going to kid you into thinking that you are going to instantly feel comfortable making these calls. You are not, you are going to be nervous and you are going to make mistakes. But then again, have you ever done something new perfectly the first time? I certainly haven’t. What I can promise you is that with practice you will get better, your comfort level will increase and you will start to get results more quickly.

Here are my top tips for making introduction calls

  • Make time in your diary to plan your calling
  • Block off time in your diary to make the calls (10am is a great time)
  • Decide who you want to speak with and make a provisional list
  • Do some research into your potential contacts so that you feel well prepared
  • Plan your introduction and some questions for the call
  • Set yourself a minimum and maximum objective for the call
  • Take some time to practice
  • Think about how good you will feel when you have got your first meeting with a potential client
  • Make the calls
  • Reap the rewards!

One further important thing

And one further thing, and this is very important. Don’t call your most important potential client first. Make a number of calls first to people who don’t matter that much. I know you are going to say that all people matter, but in terms of learning to call well, you need to make the first calls to those who you can bear not to get work from.

Once you are building a style and purpose, then call the more important people.

Don’t put it off

Whatever you do, don’t look at your list, and make excuses not to call them. The person you don’t call, is without doubt the person who is just about to hire someone with your skills, or knows someone else who is about to!

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